EDDIE Howe is STILL a target for managerless Bournemouth, the Lancashire Telegraph understands.

The 34-year-old, who left the Cherries to take charge of the Clarets in January last year – after leading his boyhood club to promotion in 2009, remains a favourite for the job.

And he could be heading a two-horse race, with Bournemouth believed to be eyeing up Karl Robinson as an option in case their hopes for Howe fall down.

Burnley were last week defiant in their message against the idea of Howe returning to his former club, following the departure of Paul Groves.

Clarets chief executive Lee Hoos issued a ‘hands off’ warning through the Lancashire Telegraph, saying: “Burnley Football Club would not welcome any approach for Eddie Howe from any club.

“We are in the process of building for the future with Eddie and his staff and speculation is an unwanted distraction.”

But Bournemouth appear to have been undeterred by Burnley’s stance. Last week Cherries chairman Eddie Mitchell all but ruled out a move for Howe, after telling the Bournemouth Echo it would be unrealistic of them to appoint a manager from a higher division.

“I can’t expect Championship or Premier League managers in jobs to step back to League One. Realistically, the wages paid in the Championship and Premier League are above what we can afford at this moment in time,” he said.

“It might be different when we get there but we have got to work within a League One budget.”

However, sources on the south coast feel he has since been conspicuous by his silence on the manager search.

And it is thought to be only a matter of time before Bournemouth make their intentions for Howe clear, with an official approach to the Burnley board believed to be imminent.

It is unlikely Mitchell would go ahead with it, however, unless he was given some indication that the former Bournemouth defender and manager could be tempted to return.

Until that happens, it is business as usual, with boss Howe focusing on making Burnley harder to beat during the international break.

He has scrapped plans for an extended break in the aftermath of Saturday’s 4-3 defeat at Crystal Palace, where Burnley surrendered a 2-0 lead, to work on their defence.

Howe insists his side does not lack experience in that department this season.

The Clarets fielded a young back four last term, with three of their four most used defenders all under the age of 24 at the time.

But with the players all benefiting from a full season in the first team, allied to the summer signing of Jason Shackell, Howe insists youth can no longer be used as an excuse for the mistakes that are being made with alarming regularity this year.

“I don’t think I’ve ever said it was a lack of experience (this season). Last year I said that regularly but this year, no. We’ve got enough games now in our team,” he said.